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Finally got out at 60
Old 06-14-2016, 10:58 PM   #1
Dryer sheet wannabe
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Finally got out at 60

New to posting on the ER Forum, but I've been lurking for a few years. Thanks everyone for the advice, experiences, questions, etc. It has been great to learn from everyone else.

A little about me.... I was born into a pretty modest family life with little financial means. My father was career enlisted military, so we moved a lot - I attended a different school every year until the 11th grade. Since age 12 or so, I've worked - actually picked cotton as a kid, threw paper routes, etc.

With the help of the GI bill, I attended college and later got a master's degree and managed to do so without debt. Ended up in the logistics/supply management arena and made a career out of it, rising to upper management. It was a very rewarding profession and for the most part I enjoyed it immensely.

Married with 4 adult children, all on their own now and doing well - I was able to pay for most their schooling (one has another year of college and all have finished without any student debt). My wife has the rare situation where she works from home and absolutely loves her job (earns about $40,000 a year), and will probably continue another 3-5 years, with an est. $25,000 pension.

We have a home that's paid for worth about $400,000, no debts, purchased new cars before retirement. New roof and other upgrades in the past 2-3 years and plan to stay put. $1.5 million in a mix of Roth 403b, 457, and other retirement accounts. We additionally have another $350,000 in liquid financial assets (including cash, PM's, savings bonds, CD's, etc.)

I retired at the end of 2015 and was fortunate to receive retiree health benefits until age 66 as well as an annual SS offset payment of about $30,000 a year, also until age 66.

Retirement for the past 5+ months has been better than ever dreamed. I've always been a type A, workaholic, but have always found time for recreation and travel, as well as good friends. I've done a lot of charity service over the years as well that I've loved.

The downtime that retirement has provided has allowed me to separate "who I was or thought I was" from "who I really am". Had a bout with melanoma about 5-6 years ago, and it hasn't reappeared, but it was a wake up call at the time. Now it's small "enjoyable" projects, spending time with grandkids, travel, planning/completing a few bucket list items and helping mom with her needs in stage 2 alzheimers. Wife and I are closer and enjoy each other more now than at any time in our 33 years of marriage.

On a final note, work the last 2-3 years was difficult. Changes in management, challenging issues and impossible expectations caused high turnover in staff almost caused me to have a nervous breakdown. My replacement is about ready to have one as well.

I stayed on 1-2 years longer than I would have on the promise of a (discretionary) retirement package. New management withdrew the offer to me after 27 years with the organization but offered it to several peers. I was told it was not because I was doing a bad job, but because they didn't want and couldn't afford for me to leave - guess they thought I would accept that! With some legal threats, I was able to prevail in keeping the package, but it left me feeling somewhat bitter at the experience. It was financially worth the fight, but I don't know if I would have done it over again. They've since wanted me to come back and consult - you can probably guess my answer...

We're FIRE'd and I'm "Free". I still can't believe that moniker wasn't taken yet, it was the first handle tried when I registered..... because it was the first thing that came to my mind!

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Old 06-14-2016, 11:13 PM   #2
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Great story! Putting 4 kids through college and retiring with your assets and successfully fighting for your retirement package and enjoying the process of rediscovering yourself is inspiring.

I look forward to more of your posts.

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Old 06-14-2016, 11:18 PM   #3
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The story about the package shows well that loyalty to a company is a one way street.
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Finally got out at 60
Old 06-19-2016, 09:57 PM   #4
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Finally got out at 60

Congrats on your hard-won freedom! Enjoy it fully. Your story touched a nerve. I have experienced the totally new ballgame that arrives with new management. Every deal is off. Consequently, I've developed a fairly ruthless attitude toward organizations. If it's a good deal for me, I stay. If not, I find a new gig and I'm gone. I would LOVE to be dedicated to my employing organization but I have learned that any such feelings are foolish and guard myself from them. I've never had a contract or a union and all of my employers are forthrightly At Will employers, i.e. no protection whatsoever despite the team/family/commitment to excellence pablum they all issue.

It seems like even good initial situations change every couple of years for one reason or another, either management-wise, financially or due to changes in strategic direction. Fine, I have no judgment of management doing what it needs to do, just good-bye. My assumption is that allowing great anger to build on my part is bad for my health, and I will not sacrifice my health for any stupid organization. I always have a foot out the door and make sure my LinkedIn info is current so that the head hunters can find me, and I've built up a 7 figure net worth in an attempt to be relatively bullet proof from organizations' decisions. My last employer started cratering due to unbelievable financial neglect in late 2015 so I decided I'd have a new job in 2016. I called a headhunter in March and started a new job with better, well, everything in May. I'll stay until it's not good anymore.

We did not create this work world but we are responsible for having sober, actionable strategies to deal with it head-on. Congrats on having a career you largely enjoyed (I have largely enjoyed mine, too) and on winning what's yours.
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Old 06-20-2016, 01:21 PM   #5
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Glad that your retirement is as fulfilling and enjoyable as you hoped!
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Old 06-20-2016, 03:49 PM   #6
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I worked fo a very large industrial company of the highest integrity. My division was merged with an equal sized but lower quality competitor, and all promises in the past were off. We essentially had two companies working side by side, and the other side gained influence in upper management.

I remember the Executive Vice President coming to town and telling us our jobs were secure--few future changes. Later, we found out the paperwork requesting closing down our fantastic branch were in his briefcase all the time.

Whenever there are major changes in management and business methods, it's dog eat dog. In our case, 45 fantastic employees were reduced to about 7 people, and I was fortunate to be a survivor. Then in 2008, MegaCorp went nuts over the economy and got rid of 5 of the 7 remaining employees as we were all 55 and over in age--and making too much money.

Early retirement was the best thing to ever happen to me. Thankfully I had many hobbies and properties that keep me more than busy all the time. I don't even think about my old company--as long as my defined pension is wire transferred every month.

Congratulations on your preparation for living in the long run. Now get out there and travel and do exactly what you want to do.
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Old 06-20-2016, 03:58 PM   #7
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Congratulations on being Free (sorry, bad pun there). Glad you were able to get out before it had too much destructive effect on your health and attitude. Seems like you have made a good adjustment and can enjoy retirement.
I used to have a handle on life....... but it broke!

Semi-Retired 7/1/16: working part-time (60%) for now
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Old 06-20-2016, 07:04 PM   #8
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Welcome to the club!
Retired at 59 in 2014. Should have done it sooner but I worried too much.
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Old 06-20-2016, 08:27 PM   #9
Dryer sheet wannabe
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Thank you for all the great responses. After mulling it over for many weeks, I dropped by the old office today (I returned a key that was lost in the shuffle of leaving) with a couple of dozen bagels and said Hi to a few of the employees. About 40% of the staff has turned over in the past 6 months alone. Nothing positive from anyone. My wife warned me about going, so I didn't tell her.

It was actually somewhat therapeutic and confirmed to me that leaving was the best thing that could have happened to me. I felt like I was visiting the grave for the first time of a friend who'd died 6 months ago.

Life goes on, and it really is good now. I did some yard work for a recent widow in the neighborhood and enjoyed a visit from my just about to turn 2 granddaughter - whose grandpa (me) is the greatest! Father's day was great too, all my 4 children were able to be there. How can I complain?!
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Old 06-20-2016, 09:20 PM   #10
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Congrats! Sounds like you definitely did the right thing. That part about the retirement package was BS. If they really didn't want you to leave, they would have offered you an incentive to stay, not take away the package option for leaving! Glad you got it anyway. If you don't need the money, stay strong and don't give in to consulting for them.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:17 AM   #11
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Congratulations, sounds like you've worked hard and planned and prepared well, enjoy your freedom.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:37 AM   #12
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I can clearly relate to your situation as our backgrounds are similar. We are all hoping for a similar result as we break free from the corporate world. I just turned 60 two months ago but three years ago I thought I'd work until 64-65.

But then an acquisition of my mega-corp company has left those who survived in the battlefield to deal with all the increased pressure, increased hours, corporate politics, gamesmanship, etc. making it a very unpleasant place to work.

Our net worth is similar with everything paid off. Kids are grown up and self sufficient. I was hoping to get terminated last month after another big wave of reductions, since it was the last month that a decent package was offered. Since that did not happen, I'm now seriously eyeing my leave date. I guess like you, I'm trying to save as much as possible when I'm near the end, knowing that I won't be earning this salary in the future.

The big advantage you have is your health coverage being covered and getting a stipend. I won't get that - but I have a second job (part time adjunct professor) that I love where I may be able to pick up health benefits at a reasonable cost, and my wife, like yours, still works, and also earns between $30,000 and $50,000 a year.

Keep posting!! I'm betting that stories like yours are motivational to those like us on the "bubble" or in that OMY syndrome.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:12 PM   #13
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Wow, great story. Thanks for sharing. 63 here with one year to go. Got out at 60 after 30 years leading a bank but after dealing with 3 bad board directors needed to leave. Went back to work for competitor, will get out at 64.

This market scares me. Dividend stocks are my plan along with a lump sum vs pension. Do not want my old company getting a credit if I don't use it all.

Will take ssa at 66. Like many of us I became my business vs who I really am. Still have some soul searching to do to get there.


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